The draft of the new Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise Program Plan will be reviewed by the Greensboro City Council at a work session in the Plaza Level Conference Room on Tuesday Feb. 5 at 3:30 p.m.

Parts could be controversial.

Currently the MWBE program covers a 10 county area which means if a MWBE contractor is outside the 10 county area, her or his company doesn’t count toward the MWBE goal.

The new program expands that to a 27 county area going east as far as Warren, south to Richmond and Scotland on the South Carolina line, west to Davie and Rowan and north to the whole tier of counties on the Virginia line from Stokes to Warren.

In that area are also Wake, Durham and Orange counties in other words the Research Triangle. It is a massive expansion in square miles as well as population.  Wake with over 1 million people is the second largest county in the state behind Mecklenburg.

There is also a lot of language in the draft of the new program which indicates Griffin and Strong the company that did the disparity study and helped write the draft of the proposed program know what has been happening in the MWBE industry.  Because of the way it is currently set up, a minority or a woman contractor could qualify as an MWBE subcontractor and turn around and subcontract out all the work.  Under the proposed program the MWBE subcontractor would be required to perform a 49 percent of the work itself.  This would eliminate so called “paper contractors.”

The proposed program gives the example of a trucking company and states “The M/WBE must be responsible for the management and supervision of the entire trucking operation…”  It also states that the MWBE firm must own, insure and operate the trucks using drivers it employs.  If the trucks are leased, they must be leased from a MWBE firm.

The proposed program also expands those who are considered minorities.  In construction contracts Hispanic Americans were added as a minority group.  In professional services Asian Americans were added and in goods and other services Asian Americans and Native Americans were added.

The proposed program also allows companies to be penalized in Good Faith Effort points for not using MWBE contractors on their previous public and private jobs.

For contracts over $1 million the prime contractor may be required to Make a Good Faith Effort to enter into a joint venture agreement with an MWBE firm.

In another portion that seems to violate the legal principles of the entire MWBE program the draft states, “The GSC [Goal Setting Committee] may, on a contract-by-contract basis, at its discretion, require that a predetermined percentage of a specific Construction contract up to 40% be subcontracted to eligible M/WBEs.”

The entire program is legally based on goals not quotas, but this portion of the proposed program makes no mention of goals or good faith efforts.

The entire proposed program is far more specific and detailed than the current program.

The City Council received the Disparity Study in March 2018 and this will be the first public City Council discussion of the proposed MWBE program that is the result of that study.